FAGE Six Pack
Title: Like My Father
Written for: Frankielynn
Written By: Cruiz107 (Cruiz FanFiction on Facebook)
Banner by: Bethany Tullos
Prompt used: Sad by Maroon 5.
I hated this parkway with a fucking passion. It was like you had to transform into a complete moron to navigate your way through the lanes. Signal lights and brakes failed to exist along these roads. This was literally my punishment. All I needed was a fucking deer to pop out of nowhere.
I concentrated on the olive green tree tops and brown tree bark ahead, marking the distance when I passed a targeted oak.
My phone on the passenger seat shook violently with an incoming call. I grabbed it with one hand while keeping the other firmly on the wheel. I would not be a female driving statistic.
With the quickest of glances, I saw Edward's goofy smile light up the screen. He had been calling me all day, but each one was sent to voice mail. Deciding to get the call over with now, as opposed to when I got home, I put the call on speaker.
"What's up?" I asked my best friend.
"I've been calling you all day. What the hell?"
"Four different patients today. What's going on?" I asked while flipping the bird to the driver who had just cut me off.
"Are you home? This is kinda…really fucking important."
"Umm…in about three more exits. Is this something I need to sit down for or something?" I asked with a nervous chuckle.
"This is something that you need a bottle of Jack for."
"Edward," I laughed, "I doubt whatever it is is that serious." Jack was only brought out for really shitty days. Today sucked, but I highly doubted the captain needed to come out of its quarters.
"It's about Jasper." I swerved, but recovered before I caused a collision.
*TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO*
"Edward," I whined as he dragged me by the hand to the Starbucks in the mall. "I don't want to do this. Dad's at home, I still have a lot of studying to get done, and I look like crap. Can't we do this another day?"
"No, we can't. Sue is with Charlie, I know for a fact that any studying you have to do is not really necessary, and I put you together so you look amazing. We're doing this today-right now. Jasper's only going to be in town for a week – a very crucial week."
"I still don't see why it's so important that we meet. I don't really have time for new people, anyway."
"Because I had this…feeling, if you will. I think the two of you could work."
"Yeah, well, I had the same 'feeling' when you and I met and that didn't pan out, did it?" I asked playfully.
"We'll chalk it up to your gay-dar being in the shop that week."
To say it was an embarrassing week would be understatement. Seven months ago Edward became my father's physical therapist and sometimes home health aide when I needed the extra help, but of course that was an unofficial and unpaid position. Charlie was a police chief before getting struck by a bullet, paralyzing him from the waist down. It was out on a call about shots fired in a residence when it happened. Two teenage boys had gotten a hold of their father's gun and decided to play cops and robbers.
Edward was an absolute godsend. Aside from being excellent at his job, he managed to get Charlie to open up again – grateful for living. Before Edward came along, after the accident, Charlie would resign himself to sit in front of the TV and not much else. He wouldn't let me, or anyone, help him without a fight. There were too many times I found him on the bathroom floor with tears in his eyes and a new bruise to add to the extensive collection he amassed as he tried to prove to everyone that he could be completely independent. Whether Charlie knew it or not, there were many times I cried myself to sleep. The hopelessness I felt could rival my father's.
Edward managed to get Charlie to see that police work wasn't who he was, but what he did.
It also didn't hurt that Edward was easy on the eyes. With artfully disheveled hair, sea-green eyes, broad shoulders, and an enchantingly crooked smile, it was a given that any creature on this earth would find him attractive. It was too bad, though, that he and I batted for the same team. However, it wasn't long until he had to inform me that, although he was flattered, he and his long time boyfriend, Aro, were very happy. He did promise that if he ever got curious about the opposite sex, he'd give me a call. I was keeping my fingers crossed.
Although I embarrassed myself royally, he and I became quick friends. It was so easy to be around him and Aro. In a way, he also became a sort of mentor to me. After watching the way he made such a difference with Charlie, he inspired me to follow in his footsteps. Not only could I help my own father, but I could help others as well.
"Alright," I sighed. "Tell me again what he's like."
Edward side-eyed me. He already described Jasper twice already. "You already know what he looks like."
I smirked in response. We both knew that despite my excuses and hesitance, the description of Jasper had me drooling. "Indulge me."
He rolled his eyes, but did as I asked. "He has blond hair – long but shaved at the bottom, hazel eyes, about 6'3. He has two quarter sleeve tattoos, and a tongue piercing. I'd tell you that he scored a 1480 on his SAT's or that he made the Dean's list two straight years in college, but I know that you can't be bothered with things like that," he quipped.
"Shut up," I laughed. "I'm impressed alright, but there has to be something wrong with him - chronically bad breath or body odor, a heavy stutter, chauvinistic, a Nazi sympathizer? I feel like you're holding something back."
"Not bad, per se," he drawled out.
I halted my steps and yanked my hand from his. "Edward Anthony Cullen! You tell me right now what's wrong with him."
"Listen. I'll tell you, but you have to promise me, promise me, that you'll give him a chance. Jasper's a great guy and you can't hold it against him."
"He's a cheater, isn't he? You don't want me told hold his past discretions against him, huh? Edward, don't do this to me."
"No, Bella," he huffed. "He's never cheated on a past girlfriend. Jasper…submitted his application to join the police force." He closed one eye and turned his head to the side, waiting for the blow.
I shook my head angrily. "No." I turned around and walked away. I wasn't doing this again and fuck Edward for trying to put me in that position.
"Bella, wait!" I heard his hurried footsteps catching up to me.
"Stop." He grabbed my wrist before I could get any further. "I said he put in the application. What if he doesn't get in or has a change of heart? Don't throw this opportunity away without getting to know him."
"I can't do that, Edward. What if we do hit it off and he does get into the academy? What if he joins the force and gets shot during a traffic stop?"
"You have a lot of what-ifs and you haven't even met him. What if you decide that he's better off a friend? You're letting Charlie and your fears control things that haven't even happened yet. You can't be like that, Bella, or you're going to be like Charlie was when I first met him."
I narrowed my eyes at him, but eventually gave in. "I'll meet him, but I'm telling you now that nothing is going to come from this."
"Fine." He put his hands up in surrender. "Let's go."
I followed behind him into the mall and into Starbucks. I spotted Jasper right away, tucked into a corner table, looking down at his phone, with two tall cups set to the side. He had a tucked ponytail, showing off the short hairs. His tattoos peeked out from beneath the sleeves of his t-shirt, and I could make out the bottom on his Nike's from under his jeans. Everything fit him so nicely.
"Fuck," I muttered to myself.
"You might want to wipe the corners of your mouth a little," Edward chuckled.
"Shut up." I pushed his shoulder. "Let's go."
"Oh no, sweetie, I have a lunch date with Aro. This is all you."
"You…son of a bitch. You set me up on a blind date? I can't do this alone."
"Then just don't think of it as a blind date. You know a little about him and he knows a little about you; you're not going in completely blind. Besides, I can already tell you like him so alone time is good," he tried to convince me.
"It doesn't matter if I like him or not because nothing is going to come out of this. I don't date cops," I reminded him harshly.
"I guess it's a good thing he's not a cop then, huh?" he joked. He wiped the smile of his face pretty quickly when he saw I was not in the joking mood. "Look, just have coffee with the guy. You don't want to pursue it anymore after today, then don't. Just do me a favor and go over there with an open mind. He's a good guy and a great friend if that's all you want out of this."
I took another look at Jasper and couldn't help smirking. He was not happy with whatever was happening on the other end of that phone. His face was adorably scrunched in frustration. I could see his lips move slightly, talking to the screen. However cute I thought he looked quickly vanished when a horrible thought crossed my mind.
"He doesn't have any crazy exes I should worry about, right? Any baby mamas?"
"No kids, no crazy ex-girlfriend's as far as I'm aware," he assured me.
I took a deep breath. "Alright. Well, I guess I should get this over with." I tried to sound unaffected by Jasper's presence. The truth of the matter was that it was taking every ounce of self-restraint to not run over there and introduce myself to him. And maybe lick his face.
With a kiss to my forehead, Edward left me with a "Go get 'em, tiger." I rolled my eyes but began what I hoped was a sexy strut over to Jasper. I may not have wanted a romantic relationship with him, but there was no reason why he shouldn't find me sexually attractive.
"Jasper?" I asked once I reached the table.
"Bella?" I nodded. "Wow," I heard him breathe under his breath. I liked this guy already. If this was the kind of reaction I was going to get looking like this I couldn't wait until I was really dressed up.
Not that I planned on dating him or anything.
"I got you a caramel latte. Edward told me that's your favorite so…" He slowly pushed the cup in front of me. I smiled a bit too long at him; too cute. "What?" he chuckled nervously.
"Nothing." I shook my head and reached for the cup that was still surprisingly hot. "It is. Thanks." I brought the cup up in salute and took a tentative sip, testing the temperature of the liquid. It was still fairly hot which suggested to me that he hadn't been waiting long. "Were you waiting long?" I asked anyway.
"Not at all. I was sitting for less than ten minutes before you got here."
"So, um…" I started, trying to figure out what to say. "You looked a little annoyed when I first walked in. Is everything alright? If it's a bad time we can reschedule." Really, I didn't want to do this another time. I found myself wanting to get to know him even if I was already firm that nothing was going to be blossoming between us. Rather, I was fishing for information. I wanted to know why he seemed so upset and if I, indeed, had to worry about some jealous ex-girlfriend finding out about me and trashing my car.
The most delightful blush colored his cheeks as his eyes widened and looked everywhere but my direction. It was apparent that I witnessed something I wasn't supposed to and because I can be the most paranoid person, my mind conjured up all of the worst case scenarios.
"Promise not to laugh?" he asked sheepishly. I could guaran-damn-tee him I would not be laughing if I had to watch my back over his stalker ex.
"Cross my heart."
"I can't get past this level in Angry Birds and I'm ready to throw my phone across the room," he informed me seriously, any trace of embarrassment long gone.
I couldn't help it. I stared at him to assess the severity of what he told me. He wasn't joking. I covered my mouth to stifle the obnoxiously loud laugh I promised I'd refrain from.
"Well, you've already painted yourself as someone who can't be trusted," he mused when my laughter dwindled. "Remind me not to let you in on the big family secret."
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. It's just I wasn't expecting that. I wish I could emphasize, but I can't."
"You've beat it already?" he asked sadly, as if it was the greatest tragedy he had experienced in his twenty something years of living.
"Hell no!" I shouted a bit too loudly. I shrugged embarrassingly, offering a silent apology to those around me. "I've never played - too many horror stories about the murdering of innocent phones. Don't become another cautionary tale, Jasper." I put my hand on top of his over the table in a manner that was meant to be comforting but playful. However, the joke was on me when I made contact with his hand. It wasn't like an electric shock - more like a warm sensation that started at my hand and slowly traveled up and around every fiber that made up my being. Nothing about the situation was funny as evident by both of our sudden silence. I looked up into his hazel eyes and saw the same curiosity that had to be reflected in mine. Slowly, to not cause offense, I drew my hand from his.
The silence was deafening. I could only speak for myself when I wondered what had just happened. It wasn't an earth altering moment, but it meant something. I didn't know what, though.
"So, uh, Edward told me that you were considering moving to Port Angeles." The awkwardness was thick in the air and we somehow had to move past it if we were going to become friends. Nothing more than friends.
"Yeah," he answered, relief drifted from his response. "Right now I'm crashing on Edward's couch, waiting to hear back about my application for the academy. It was supposed to be for a week to get a feel for the area, but I'm not sure a week will be sufficient."
Couldn't he have just left it at a yes? I didn't want to hear about his application, or the academy, or the police force probably just as much as he didn't want to hear about the statistics of police injuries sustained on the job. Or how many officers were killed while responding to a call. Or about how devotion to the job wasn't necessarily a good thing. I'm sure he didn't want to hear about how my father spent months laid up in bed because he refused to face the world without his uniform or badge. Even better, I'm pretty sure Jasper didn't want to hear the story about how my mother refused to be married to a cripple so she skipped town on us. No, Jasper would want to be spared the details of the risks he would be taking if he joined the force.
Instead, I went with, "That's great. Good luck with that." What did it matter to me anyway. Nothing more than friendship would come of this.
"What about you? What are your plans, Bella?"
"I'm actually in school right now. I'm following in Edward's footsteps and becoming a physical therapist."
"Is that so?" He widened his eyes in surprise and took a tentative sip from his own paper cup. "Now, is that because you just adore Edward that much or is there was other rooted reason?"
Fuck. It was an innocent enough response to his earlier question, but I didn't count on Jasper having a follow up. "No, I just admire the work that he does, helping others."
"It is very commendable." He nodded and thankfully changed the subject. "Tell me about yourself. What do you like to do for fun? Hobbies, interest…past boyfriends?" He mumbled the last part. Was his curiosity a good thing or bad?
"Well, right now I don't do much for fun. If I'm not in class then I'm working. I like to read, though. When I had more time I went to the movies a lot. I hang out with Edward here and there." I omitted the part that a lot of the times we "hung out" was when he came to see Charlie. "What about you?"
"Don't think I didn't realize you skipped over the part about boyfriends." He gave me a faux stink eye, but kept going anyway. "Right now I'm working odd jobs around Forks and Port Angeles until I hear back about the application – it's for the Port Angeles police." He ran his tongue across his bottom lip, exposing the ball and bar of his piercing. Not that I was paying that close attention to it or anything. "I'm really into music; everything really. I read, too, but I'm more into James Patterson type material."
"Tattoos!" I interjected too enthusiastically to pull off nonchalance afterward. I tried to play it off anyway. "It's just that I noticed you had some tattoos." I took a sip of my coffee and shrugged my indifference. His smirking face told me I needed to freshen up my acting skills.
"Yes, tattoos. I have plenty of tattoos." Well, now he was just being condescending. Luckily, his smile remained in place or I wouldn't have known not to smack him. "Do you have any?"
"No. I planned on getting one, but the time was never right, ya know?"
He lifted his short sleeve to reveal not only his colorful tattoos, but perfectly sculpted muscles. This time I did feel a little drool collecting at the corners of my mouth. "It's always the right time for tattoos. Let me know when you do find the time; I'll go with you."
What should have been an hour meeting, tops, turned into four and plans for dinner two nights later. I walked away that day partially in love and all the way scared shitless. Jasper was going to be nothing more than a friend, maybe even a best friend, but I refused to love another cop.
"Jasper, I'm serious. I can't do this!" With my arms wrapped around his hard midsection, I buried my face into his neck and refused to look down. I didn't know that the hell I was thinking when I let him talk me into coming up here. My own personal defense was that he used his paranormal hazel eyes. There was a kind of magic stored in his eyes that made unsuspecting people, or maybe just me, consent to doing the stupidest things.
"We're not even that high up - twenty feet maybe. Besides, you were the one who said you wanted to try cliff diving."
"Someday. I said I wanted to try it someday. Today is not that day, Jasper." I held on tighter. Not because I was afraid of the slick sediment under my feet. I just had an extreme fondness for holding him close.
I felt his head move closer to my own; his lips impossibly closer to my ear. "I'd never let you fall, Bella," he whispered affectionately. He didn't let me spend much time analyzing what he said before he brought his lips to mine, fusing them together. Before I fully registered what had passed between us, his hold on me tightened and the next second we were airborne.
I wish I could say that it was an exhilarating feeling; like I was flying and soaring through the air. No, it was none of that. Despite holding on to Jasper and my eyes firmly closed, I was still scared out of my mind. It seemed to take forever to hit the water, but when we did, I still didn't feel any better. I didn't prepare myself accordingly and ended up with water going up my nose and in my mouth. Letting go of Jasper at the last moment probably didn't help prevent my almost drowning.
"You asshole," I laughed and spluttered. "You tricked me."
"It worked, though." He waded through the water to encircle his arms around me. "Want to try again?" he asked sweetly.
"No, I'm good. Thanks."
"I'm good, too. I like it here in this very position. I like how your boobs bob up and down in the water," he laughed.
"Pervert," I scolded him, but added an exaggerated jump to give him a slightly better view. Jasper and I had only slept together once. Our schedules didn't allow for us to spend much time together and having Jasper hang out with Edward and me at my dad's was out of the question. It wasn't that I was embarrassed of Charlie - quite the opposite, actually. However, I knew that Charlie was a proud man and he preferred to be left to his solitude and the less people who knew of his condition the better. Also, I wasn't as completely selfish as I thought I was. If Jasper wanted to be a cop, then I wasn't going to stop him so the more distance between us the better it would be when he left to the academy. He hadn't received a response yet, but I knew it was coming.
Jasper's jovial disposition shifted into something more serious, contemplative. "Bella," he breathed, taking my face between his cold hands. "I lo-" I cut him off with a hard kiss.
I knew what he was going to say and it wasn't as if I didn't feel it, too. There was no way I couldn't. Jasper and I had been casually dating for the last four months. It was exclusive, though neither one of us labeled it as such and thankfully, we hadn't labeled each other, either. I'm sure to other people we were boyfriend and girlfriend, but as long as we didn't call each other that, then when it ended it would be easier. Right?
If I let him tell me that he loved me, there'd be no going back. I wouldn't lie to him and say I didn't feel the same. Because no matter how hard I tried to fight it, along the way I had fallen irrevocably in love with Jasper Whitlock. If he thought different, though, then maybe he'd be the one strong enough to leave me instead of the other way around.
"Was is this about?" I whispered harshly to Edward while Jasper was getting us coffees. Edward had that nervous look in his green eyes that was all too telling. He knew something and he wasn't sharing.
Jasper had called me this morning, basically pleading with me to meet him. Since it was during one of my father's sessions, I told him that I would meet him later. I didn't tell him that Edward was with me because then I would have to explain to him why I had time for Edward and not him. Luckily, Edward had to go home first so he arrived with Jasper.
"I don't know," he tried to convince me. He was lying. Edward was a horrible liar. The space between his brows always creased as if contemplating his lie and if he had managed to pull it off believably. He never did. "He doesn't seem like he's in a bad mood so it can't be bad, right?" His face contorted into pain. A pained look not unlike the look of constipation.
I held my hand up. "Just stop. You're digging that hole and if you burrow any deeper I won't help you out."
"Look." His voice was begging with just one word uttered. "Just let him tell you, okay? Yes, I know what it is, but you really need to hear it from him. Don't try to force it out of me." Even his eyes were pleading for me to go along with it. Whatever it was, it had to be serious.
"Fine," I sighed. If I didn't love Edward so much my hands would already be wrapped around his neck, choking him until he spit it out.
"Here you go." Jasper placed a cup of coffee in front of me and a kiss on the forehead before sitting down.
"Not that I don't appreciate this," I gestured to the cup, "but I really want to know what's going on."
"You didn't tell her, did you?" he asked Edward. He had a smile in place, but a serious look in his eyes. Edward shook his head no as he tried to plaster on a smile of his own. I could tell Edward's fake smiles from his real ones and this was most certainly fake.
"Great!" Jasper turned back to me. Out of nervousness, I didn't want to smile, but I couldn't help the infectiousness of his. With a toothy grin, I waited to hear what he had to say. "I heard back from the academy." It took all my will power and some undefined strength to keep my smile in place.
"And?" I managed to get out although I already knew the answer. He wouldn't be smiling if he got rejected.
"I got in! I have three weeks to pack." This time I didn't fight it. I'm sure Jasper's frown matched my own. "What's wrong?" he asked cautiously.
"Nothing," I answered a bit more chipper than sounded natural. "Did you hear that, Edward? Jasper's going to be a cop." A maniacal look was in place. My now fake smile was wide. I wanted to be mad at Edward for knowing and refusing to warn me, for introducing me to Jasper in the first place.
"Seriously, what's going on?" Jasper looked widely between Edward and me. He began playing with his tongue piercing which I came to learn was a nervous habit of his.
I looked back to Jasper, the man that I had begrudgingly come to love. He was a kind, caring, and gentle man who could be a little reckless at times if he thought it amused me. I went on more dates with him than all of my other boyfriends combined. He brought me coffee and Red Bulls when he knew I needed to pull all-nighters and rubbed my feet when I had a longer than usual day at work.
He would make a great husband for someone.
"Jasper," I said, intertwining our fingers and resting them on the tabletop. Tears already swam in my eyes and took the plunge when I blinked. I quickly peeked at Edward who was shaking his head minutely. He knew what was coming. Maybe it wasn't fair to do this with him still here instead of in private, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't need Edward. "I'm so happy for you," I began sincerely. I may not have been thrilled with his career choice, but no one more than Jasper deserved everything he wanted in life. "I knew you were going to get in." Never was there a doubt in my mind that he wouldn't, which is why a lot of this was my fault. "You're going to make a great c-cop." I couldn't help the quiver in my voice as I spoke. "But I think we need to end whatever it is between us. It's for the better. Really." I wasn't convinced, but maybe he would be.
Instead of letting go like I thought he would, he held on tighter. "Bella, baby, no. What are you talking about? I love you." Like I had been burned I snatched my hand from his. God, this was so hard. I knew it would be, though. In the beginning I had prepared myself for it, but the longer we went on without a response from the academy, I foolishly began to believe that maybe he had let that dream fall by the wayside; that maybe he and I could be together.
"Don't," I pleaded. "Don't say that," I cried. "You're a great man and you deserve someone that can be great for you. That's not me."
Steeling myself for the best performance of my life, I began with the biggest lie I had ever told. Wiping my eyes, I looked straight into his. "I don't love you, Jasper. We had fun together; a lot of good times, but..." I shrugged my shoulders. "It's better this way."
He stared at me blankly, lost to the world, before he bellowed out a laugh that continued for a good thirty seconds. I looked to Edward to tell me what the hell was going on. He was just as confused as I was.
"You know what, Bella, you're right. It is for the best." He went from slightly insane with laughter to hard and cold. "I don't know shit about you, so how could I possibly love you? How could I possibly think I had a future with someone who never invites me over to their house or never let me meet her parents? And don't think I haven't noticed that you've never once called me your boyfriend. Or even better, the way you always stopped me from telling you that I love you. I've noticed all of that." He continued to stare at me with his chest heaving angrily.
What he wanted me to say, I didn't know. What I wanted to say was that I loved him with everything I was. That the only thing that trumped my love for him was the fear of him suffering the same fate as Charlie. It was selfish of me but it was also to help Jasper. What if I was like my mother? When the going gets tough, I get the hell going. I couldn't put Jasper in that predicament.
I said goodbye to Jasper and left the table before we both fell victim to my weakness.
"Edward," I screamed out when I had gotten home. His car was parked at the curb so I knew he was already here.
"Hey, Dad." I gave him a kiss on his cheek. "Where's Edward?" I tried to down play my anxiety and having a conversation with Charlie was not feasible at the moment.
"Up in your room. He didn't look so good so make sure you keep a bucket handy in case he throws up." He visibly shuddered. He may have been a proud man, but he would admittedly confess that he didn't handle puke very well.
I ran up the steps two at a time, throwing my door open to find Edward sitting on my bed, typing quickly on his phone. He did look a little pale, but I didn't think nausea would be an issue.
I eyed my garbage pail just in case.
"Tell me!" I demanded without greeting. Edward didn't speak to me about Jasper at my request, but I knew, I just knew this was different.
"Don't kill me, okay? I'm just the messenger."
"Edward…" I ground out with tears already welling my eyes.
"Please, just tell me," I whispered.
I could see him gnawing on his lip as he cracked his knuckles in apprehension. "He's getting married."
I collapsed on the desk chair to the side of me.
This was happening. I knew it would one day. Jasper was a catch and any girl with brains would never let him go once they had him.
"What's her name?" I asked in his general direction, but my eyes were focused somewhere in space. "What is she like?"
"Do you really want to know?" I nodded absently. "Alright. Um… she's cute, I guess – a small thing of a girl. Long black hair with green eyes. A personal shopper with a posh boutique. She's friendly; hyper, but friendly none the less. She's hard to hate. They have pictures together on Facebook." I could hear the apology in his voice.
I offered him a small smile to show him I wasn't mad at him. He had been absolutely great these past two years since the break up. He was torn and didn't want to lose either of our friendships. I never had any intentions of making him choose. Just like I had a propensity to do, I chose for him. I asked him to refrain from anything Jasper related around me. I even deleted my Facebook when I realized that Jasper and I had a lot of mutual friends. I didn't even know how he was getting along in the force, but knowing Jasper, he was already promoted…twice.
"When's the date?"
"Why are you telling me this now? Why not sooner, or after they already married?"
"Because even though I like Alice, she shouldn't be the one who gets to spend the rest of her life with Jasper. You were an idiot for breaking up with him, but you and I both know you still love him. You're not even close to being over him - almost three years later."
I couldn't even deny Edward's allegation. I knew what he said to be true, but I thought I had gotten along well enough. Though I didn't date, I managed to keep myself busy with work and Charlie. I made time to hang out with Edward and Aro- even managed to make some new friends through the two of them. Dating and men in general just weren't on my radar.
"Maybe...maybe it's not about the happy ending. Maybe it's about the story," I argued. Jasper and I had six great months together that others could only dream of. Some people just weren't meant to have their happy ending. Charlie didn't, so why should I be any different?
"Bullshit, Bella! If anyone deserves their happy ending it's you. Look at everything you've done for your dad. For Aro and me. We didn't pick you to be our maid of honor because you looked good in the dress." He sighed in defeat. "I'm tired of seeing you so sad, Bella." I opened my mouth the defend myself, but hastily shut it when he pointed a finger in my face. "No, don't try to lie. I know you better than you know yourself. You're sad, maybe even slightly depressed. Don't do this to yourself."
Standing up to pull me to his side on the bed, he threw one arm over my shoulder, hugging me close to him. He brought his other hand to wipe away the few tears that refused to be contained.
"I've been texting with Jasper's cousin, Emmett, all day about his bachelor party for tomorrow." He gave me a pointed look. "I'm going to run to the bathroom for a bit," he began slowly, "if you need to use my phone for anything, it's on the bed."
I grabbed his hand before he could get too far. "What if he doesn't love me anymore? He wouldn't be marrying this girl if he doesn't love her."
"Oh, sweetie. You two are the blindest, stupidest people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. He may love her to some extent, but don't for one second think that she compares to his Bella. Now, let me go to the bathroom so I can deny accusations of giving you the details of the party."
"I know for damn sure you didn't plan this party," I said from the backseat of Edward's car. I looked up through the windshield at the cheesy lights that flickered 'City Limits Strip Club'. "How can you even allow this, Aro?"
"Because I know Edward won't be turned on," he explained in a wise voice. "Emmett's a man's man who likes tits in his face and a cooch in his lap. The question is how his wife allowed him to come tonight. She usually keeps him on a tight leash."
I studied the exposed brick building as a small line began forming at the entrance. From the outside it didn't look like a club that required a line of eager patrons. There were two black tinted windows and a bright red door. Hardly anything to write your frat brothers about. It looked seedy as shit, actually.
"Why would Jasper agree to come to a place like this? It's so beneath him," I muttered disgustingly. If he was my fiancé, I would never let him come to a place like this. "So when is Jasper supposed to be here?"
"In about-" Edward looked at his watch- "ten minutes, maybe. Do you know what you're going to say to him?"
"No fucking clue. Any ideas?"
"Honesty," both men shouted at the same time.
"Okay. God. I got it."
"Well, we have to go in and get a few tables together so if you want you can wait in the car." Edward handed over the car keys as he got out of the backseat.
"Good luck getting your man back," Aro said and was gone with a quick kiss to my temple.
My hands had a death grip on the steering wheel as I leaned over it, scoping my surroundings and keeping an eye out for Jasper. Ten minutes easily turned into fifteen before Jasper finally arrived with a security guard-looking dude on his side. Thankfully, I wasn't there to kick his ass.
I watched in part surprise and part disgust as he stepped to the side of the entrance and lit up a cigarette. Jasper didn't smoke. When the hell did this happen? It had to be Alice; she was a bad influence on him.
I stepped out of the car as he stomped out the butt of the cigarette. I quickened my steps as he headed toward the hideous crimson door.
"Hey," I said, grabbing his wrist before his monster of a friend led him inside. He looked at my fingers enclosed around his wrist before turning to look at who had so brazenly put their hands on an officer of the law.
The tension and the awkwardness grew thickly in the air the longer he continued to look at me as if I were an apparition. His eyes were wide and his jaw was slack. I licked my lips in anxiety, fear, and a bit in glee when I saw his eyes trail the motion on my tongue.
"Who's this?" the steroid injector asked gruffly. His friend was cute, I guess, if you were into the body builder type. However, his two deep dimples offset the intimidation vibe he was trying to convey.
"Bella," Jasper whispered loudly.
"Bella?" the man asked, surprised. "The Bella?" He was angry now.
"And you are?" I asked with the same level of irritation as him. He was an asshole and I sure as hell didn't know him from Adam so his attitude wasn't appreciated.
"Emmett, the cousin." Ah. I've heard of him from both Edward and a few times in passing from Jasper when we were together. "The cousin he stayed with when some bitch broke his heart."
I ignored his comment because, frankly, I deserved it. However, I wasn't here to get into it with a stranger. I had one goal, one priority, and getting on Emmett's good side wasn't it. I turned my attention back to a still silent Jasper.
"Can we talk? In private," I stressed the last part.
"No, you can't," Emmett answered for him. "Jasper has his bachelor party to attend to. Tomorrow Jasper is marrying the woman who he's gonna spend the rest of his life with."
Again, I ignored Emmett's jibe, but it took everything I had to not smack the shit out of him and tell him to back the fuck off.
"Jasper?" I called his name. I removed my hand from his wrist and intertwined our fingers. I took it as a good sign that Jasper closed his fingers over mine. Maybe he still felt it - that something between us that after all these years had never receded. Had he felt that ache in his chest whenever he thought of me?
"I'll handle it, Em. I'll be there in a minute." He hadn't taken his eyes off me the whole time. "Come with me," he instructed, never letting go of my hand. I had to fight the urge to stick my tongue out at Emmett when I heard him grumble and huff behind us.
He led us to the hood of a strange car that I assumed was either his or Emmett's. The air was still tense, but I'd be damned if I got this far and let nerves get the better of me. I was holding the hand of the only man I ever loved. The years hadn't dulled the need, the want I had for him.
"You look good," I commented. His hair had grown back, but was still slightly long. Though I liked the other look better, the style was probably against the police force dress code. From the few times he opened his mouth I could tell that the piercing was gone as well - another dress code issue, I'm sure. I wondered if he had added any new ink. Did he have her name permanently etched somewhere close to his heart?
"Thanks," he hesitated, "you, too." The bar was gone, but the urge to play with it was still there.
"I guess you had to take it out, huh?" I asked, pointing to my own tongue.
"Um, yeah. It's not allowed during working hours and Alice isn't a fan of it, anyway." He shrugged indifferently. "I keep a spacer in."
Alice was an idiot. "That's too bad. I always loved you with it." I internally winced at my choice of words. Jasper's narrowed eyes told me he caught it, too.
"What are you doing here, Bella?" His voice took on the hardness from the last time we spoke.
"You're getting married tomorrow," I stated. It would have been pointless to act like I didn't know. "Do you love her? Like really love her?"
"Huh," he breathed. "You have a lot of fucking nerve. Is that why you're here, because you found out I was getting married? What, are you jealous I never came crawling back?" He stared at me like I was a dumb child. "You threw that away, not me. You could have been Mrs. Whitlock already." My throat tightened and my eyes burned. "Christ, Bella. If it was up to me we would have had a kid by now." He ran his hand through his hair and ran his tongue across his lip. "You have absolutely no idea how much I loved you. Six months. It took only six months for me to fall so deeply in love with you." He began pacing angrily. "I waited for you to realize how much of me I gave to you and I got nothing in return. How do you think that made me feel, Bella? Forget about you and your regrets."
"People can change, Jasper."
"I only want to remember the good ones I had with you."
He shook his head gently. "I'm sorry. It's too late."
I watched him walk away.
The crowd that surrounded the entrance just previously was gone along with the bouncer. The only disturbance of the night were the stars and moon that seemed to be shining too brightly.
"Jasper, wait," I called out when he was a few feet from the door. I jogged up to him, resolute in what I believed had to be done to show Jasper that I truly did - even to this day - love him. "Just answer me one thing and I'll walk away. You won't even see me in passing." The two years I stayed away practically did me in; apparently Edward could attest to that. Even Charlie commented on my lack of dating every so often. Then again, he never knew about Jasper. "Are you happy?" It damn near killed me when, without a bit of hesitation, he answered yes. I gave him a watery smile and a tight nod.
Feeling brave, or maybe it was more stupidity, I leaned forward and placed a small kiss on his lips. It could have been my imagination, but I could have sworn I felt him apply slight pressure to my lips in return.
"Have fun." I motioned toward the club. "Congratulations and good luck tomorrow."
I wish I could say that it had been a long time since I cried myself to sleep at night.
"Dad, I'm running to the store for a few things. Do you need anything for Billy's?" I asked, looking down at my list. Chips, frozen pizzas, cookies, ice cream - all the staples for a date with Netflix. We would even have the house all to ourselves today.
I looked up from my list when a minute had passed and Charlie had yet to answer.
"Bella, don't take this personally, but you look like shit." He grimaced the longer he continued to observe me. "Your eyes are puffy and kinda red. Why were you crying?"
I rubbed my eyes that were, in fact, feeling tight and strained. I hadn't bothered looking in the mirror when I woke up an hour ago.
"I'm fine. Just tired. Life sucks and all that jazz."
"I heard you last night, you know. Was it over a boy? You can still tell me these things, even if your mother isn't around."
"Dad," I said as the tears began all over again. I was an emotional mess. If Jasper hadn't been the last person I slept with I would have sworn I was pregnant. "This is not a 'mom-only issue'. This is a Bella was, and continues to be, the dumbest girl on the planet issue. It is about a guy, but I'm working through it." I held up my list to emphasize my coping method. "I just need time. More time." I reached down to give my father a hug. He wasn't an overly affectionate man. He was a man, after all, but I think we both needed it.
Shopping for junk food wasn't copacetic as it should have been. I had been receiving texts from Edward and Aro all morning asking how I was doing and how I managed to get home from the club last night since they were my ride. Eventually, I just shut off my phone. Jasper was having his day today and so was I.
What should have been a thirty dollar trip with three bags turned into sixty dollar trip with seven bags. It was all worth it when I was finally able to plant my ass in front of the television and browse through documentary listings. I was on my second documentary - the bullshit that were magic illusions- when there were three knocks on the door. I groaned loudly. Not only was I being interrupted during my hot date, but I hadn't actually moved in an hour and my legs ached by simply uncrossing them.
"Coming," I yelled before quietly giggling.
I needed sleep. I was drunk with fatigue.
I pulled the door open to quickly shut it again. This was ridiculous. In my sleep deprived mind, I saw Jasper standing at my door. I wasn't sure of the itinerary, but I was pretty sure that he should have been on his way to getting married, if he wasn't already. I opened the door again to satisfy the part of my brain that wasn't exactly sure what it saw.
He was still there. His hands were in his pockets - his tuxedo pants pockets. The jacket was unbuttoned and his bow tie lay slack and undone around his neck, the first two shirt buttons undone. He looked amazing, but what the hell was he doing here?
"I lied," he said in way of greeting. "Except, I didn't know I was lying last night. This morning as I was getting ready, practicing my vows, I kept saying Bella instead of Alice." He shook his head. "It didn't upset me as much as it should have. Then I thought about it - about everything. I was happy, but not happy enough. I love Alice, but after almost two years, it wasn't that all encompassing love I had for you in those six short months." He ran his hand through his hair. Edward did that same thing. I wonder if one of them picked it up from the other.
I dragged him inside. Confession time shouldn't had been held on the porch. I took stock of the messy living room, embarrassed about the messy condition I let it get to in such a short time. Candy wrappers were strewn about, a half empty bag of Onion Rings rested on one arm of the sofa, and a can of Pepsi marked the coffee table. I was about to apologize when a thought occurred to me.
"How did you know where I lived?" I asked curiously, not that I wasn't happy to see him.
"Edward. I told him it was an emergency. He was a little too happy to oblige." He looked around the living room and I could see him surveying and silently questioning the layout of the minimal furniture.
"My dad's in a wheelchair so..." I trailed off. "Do you...um...want something to drink?" I asked nervously.
"No, thanks, I want to talk. More over, I want you to talk. I want an explanation, for then and now," he demanded.
"Do you have a minute?" I chuckled, lightly -pathetically - as I pointed to his outfit.
"I have all day," he responded seriously. "I postponed the wedding indefinitely." I didn't want him to know how ecstatic that made me. If Jasper being here and the postponement of the wedding weren't all signs that I still might have a chance, I didn't know what was.
"Alright, then. I guess I should start off by telling you that I lied, too; the day in the coffee shop. I might have loved you the day I met you. I loved you that day and never stopped. I was just...so fucking scared. Did Edward ever tell you anything about me or my family?"
"No. I couldn't deal with hearing your name." I smiled. We were in the same mind frame.
"Same here. Well anyway, long story short, my father was a cop, injured on the job. That's how he ended up in the wheelchair. To say he was a shell of his former self would be giving him too much credit. Charlie lived for that job. Never took an unnecessary day off and was always willing to accommodate his co-workers if they needed to change shifts or days off. I mean, he loved his job. Understandably, when he could no longer do it, it wrecked him. It actually wrecked our whole f-family." My voice began to shake with unwanted emotion and heartache. I was over Renee leaving, I really was, but I knew that it still haunted Charlie sometimes. He loved my mother and he harbored so much guilt over everything that happened. He tormented himself. Wondering if he hadn't gotten shot would he still have had his job and his family would still be together? I didn't see it like that. Maybe Charlie and I were more alike than I fathomed – always hung up on the what-ifs.
Clearing my throat, I continued on. "My mom left when she realized Charlie would be...disabled for the rest of his life. She couldn't hack it." Tears streamed freely and I tried my best to wipe them away as quickly as they came. Not even Edward bore witness to Charlie-induced breakdowns. Finally sitting down with me, Jasper wrapped his arms around me. I buried my head in his shoulder and just cried. I cried for my father, for how grateful I was that Edward came in our lives, the relationship my mother couldn't handle, but mostly, I cried for what could have been between Jasper and I if I hadn't been such an idiot.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I apologized when I finally got myself in check. His tie, collar, and lapel were saturated in tears and probably snot. "I'll pay for that."
He shrugged it off. "Don't worry about it. I don't mean to push, but do you think you can keep going? I just want to understand why we weren't together these last couple of years."
I nodded and cleared my throat again. "Yeah. So my mom took off and left me to take care of Charlie. I bathed him, cooked for him, helped dress him. You should have seen the way he would look at me, Jasper. He was ashamed and embarrassed and he didn't have to say it out loud because it all showed in his eyes." I took another deep breath, getting to the point of the matter. "I didn't want to be put in that situation again. I'm not saying that I resented my father for all the help he needed, but I swear he resented me for witnessing his short comings. When Edward told me that you applied for the academy I told him I couldn't do it. I didn't want to become attached to another cop, another person who puts themselves on the line everyday to save other people. For what? To end up like my father who can't let go of the what-ifs. Even worse, what if I end up like my mother? I love you too much to do that to you."
Holding my hand, he began playing with my fingers. I had just spilled my heart, my fears to him, and he remained silent. Maybe it was all for naught – all he wanted was an explanation and I had given him my life story.
"So what changed?"
"You weren't around, but by the time I realized that I would be willing to do it all over again it was too late. I kept myself busy in an effort to not think of you – of us. It wasn't until Edward told me you were getting married that I had to do something. Even if it was letting you go for good."
"Have you been with anyone else?" he asked abruptly. I laughed through my tears at the absurdity of it all.
"Seriously, that's what you want to know?" I laughed sarcastically. He arched an eyebrow in waiting. "No," I huffed through a stuffy nose. "You're kind of a hard guy to get over. Too bad I can't say the same about myself," I muttered. I knew it was irrational to be jealous of their relationship, sexual and otherwise, after two years but it wasn't something that could be helped.
"I wish it was that simple to forget you. I stalked you on Facebook before you deleted your profile." He looked at me knowingly, smirking. "I told Edward not to talk about you to me, but I strained my ears when he was talking to Aro about you and their wedding. I think I made myself fall in love with Alice so I could get over you. I guess it didn't work."
Did that mean what I thought it meant?
"You haven't stopped loving me, either?" I took a chance and put the million dollar question out there. If I was wrong, it would be a blow to the gut, not to mention highly embarrassing. If I was right, though, I would not be making the same mistake again.
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. "I thought I did; I was convinced I was over you. I wouldn't have proposed to Alice if I thought I was still hung up on you, but now I don't know much anymore."
My feelings were all over the place and I hadn't been more right when I told Jasper that I had changed. I craved Jasper in a way I thought I had long suppressed, or at least controlled, but I didn't know what to do now that he was here in my disheveled living room.
"Look," I choked out the word, "if you want to work things out with Alice, see what that situation is about, I'll step aside. It's the very least I could give you."
"No, you don't get it." He shot up and began pacing the space in front of me. "I don't want you to step aside. I don't want to figure out my feelings for Alice." He came to a sudden stop and bored his gaze to mine. "I don't want to marry her."
*ONE MONTH LATER*
"Don't ask him about the wheelchair and don't bring up police work unless he asks first. Edward is already there so that should alleviate some of the awkwardness."
"Bella, sweetheart, I've met parents before. I think I'll be okay," Jasper tried to convince me.
"Yeah, but he's a former cop and has that suspicious nature you guys pick up at the academy. Plus, he's old school, and you already have the tongue piercing and tattoos working against you."
"But you love 'em both and that works in my favor," he joked, wrapping his arms around my waist.
"You're incorrigible," I smiled.
"You love it."
"I love you." I would never tire of telling him that.
Jasper had given me a second chance at loving him. We were taking things slow, getting to know each other again. He shared only the mundane details of his job with me and I told him about some of my favorite patients.
It was a month since his almost wedding to the ever elusive Alice and he was still dealing with that aftermath. He only allowed me to offer moral support and nothing else. I even went as far as to offer to go with him to explain things to Alice. I was more than relieved when he told me it wasn't necessary. There was nothing like a woman scorned.
There was no doubt in my mind that Jasper was it for me. If I had to spend the rest of my life redeeming myself, I'd gladly do it if it meant Jasper was going to stay mine.
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